So often people are ashamed of the scars that they carry, physically, emotionally, mentally and so on. These scars, when approached from a point of shame, can hinder our personal growth and development. We need to be able to come to a point of accepting our scars and celebrating them. Yes, CELEBRATING them.
The thing is that every scar that we carry is an indication that we were stronger than whatever it was that tried to destroy us. I remember a friend once confided in me about how he felt ashamed of the burns he received to his face and arms and chest as a result of an exploding barbeque. He felt that a once handsome self was now repulsive and horrific to gaze upon. After we talked about that for a while I looked him in the eye and said, “You know, buddy, you survived something that could very easily have been the end of your life. That tells me that you are extremely strong within. And anyone who would not see that about you would be coming from a very superficial place and would not be worth your time. Those who would see through the scars and find the inner beauty that is YOU, would never have your scars define you…and they would never allow you to let them define you either.” At that moment, he realised that he had been allowing himself to be defined on only the physical appearance and how it compared to the very handsome man he used to be, and that he was likely the ONLY one doing that to himself. Two years later, he was married, the year after that he and his lovely wife had their first child of four. And I think that, even though we have lost touch over time, he is likely the type of dad who would inspire his children with his strength of character.
This is a bit of an extreme example. Most of us have scars that are not so visible. Those are the ones of which people are most unaware. Because they are so unaware, they will often say things that add salt to the wound without knowing that there was a wound in the first place. The scars that are not visible are often the ones that are the hardest of which to speak. We often have to feel completely safe in order to approach them with someone. And how that person responds will often determine whether or not we continue to open up to them. This is why, no matter how trivial someone’s share may be, we have to be aware that, although it is meaningless to us, it means a great deal to them, so we have to listen attentively and not dismiss it right off the top. Dismissal upon dismissal can lead a person to self-destructive tendencies and even, through that, cause the loss of their life. So we have to be attentive and gentle in our approach when someone is sharing a scar with us. And we have to be able to see the scar for what it is. We cannot gloss over a wound in hopes that it will go away and we won’t have to deal with it. After all, that never worked for THEM, so what makes us think it would work if we tried that?
The thing is that the more we are able to share our stories of our scars, the better, and stronger we become. That does not mean wallowing in self-pity. It does not mean holding onto the past and using it to hold our present and future hostage. It simply means sharing, and through that sharing transmuting the toxic aspect of the event that caused that scar into a medicine with which we can walk. And when we share that medicine we can strengthen and inspire others with similar scars. After all, we survived whatever it was that caused the scar. In so doing, we have shown our inner fortitude in spades. So why not celebrate that?